Wednesday, January 17, 2007

REVIEW: Two for Dinner for Two (Project Cube, Dublin)

In the turbulent business of love, intimacy and co-habitation, could the most important thing of all be how to share a kitchen? Life in the kitchen is the prime concern in Two for Dinner for Two, and not just because it offers an image of how we conduct our lives. It is also worth keeping an eye on because, well, there are very hot surfaces in here, really sharp knives and potentially messy raw ingredients. Somebody could get burned, or lose an eye, or at the very least get splattered with squashed tomatoes.

The show, directed by Ciaràn Taylor and originally a site specific work created for an apartment scheme in Ballybough, is not quite dance theatre (though the action is accompanied by live music) and certainly not straight drama. It features actors rather than dancers, though what they are asked to do might easily be described as dancing. The mix, however, proves to be a fine one.

A couple (Karl Quinn and Ruth Lehane) have come together to cook dinner (which they do in real time, with real ingredients and real knives). As they twist and turn about each other, contorting themselves insanely to avoid conflict one moment, giving vent to their basest emotions the next, it becomes clear that what is required here is exactly this degree of "reality" in gesture and movement to blend with the smell of the risotto on the hob.

Quinn and Lehane smoothly provide just that. Stretching into their roles with charm, conjuring up their characters through funny asides – "I found a great new way to chop herbs" says Quinn, interrupting another squabble to clip little curls of parsley into the soup with a scissors – and a panoply of little culinary ceremonies, from eating crisps, to crushing tomatoes and peeling cucumbers. It's an odd flavour overall, with an unaccustomed texture, but no less delicious for that.

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